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Posts tagged "W.H. Auden"


W.H. Auden Was There on Good Friday

This one has been making the rounds a bit recently, but fortunately no amount of familiarity can detract from its power. From Wystan’s long out of print ‘commonplace book’ A Certain World:

daisy_nookJust as we are all, potentially, in Adam when he fell, so we were all, potentially, in Jerusalem on that first Good Friday before there was an Easter, a Pentecost, a Christian, or a Church. It seems to me worthwhile asking ourselves who we should have been and what we should have been doing. None of us, I’m certain, will imagine himself as one of the Disciples, cowering in agony of spiritual despair and physical terror. Very few of us are big wheels enough to see ourselves as Pilate, or good churchmen enough to see ourselves as a member of the Sanhedrin. In my most optimistic mood I see myself as a Hellenized Jew from Alexandria visiting an intellectual friend. We are walking along, engaged in philosophical argument. Our path takes us past the base of Golgotha. Looking up, we see an all too familiar sight – three crosses surrounded by a jeering crowd. Frowning with prim distaste, I say, ‘It’s disgusting the way the mob enjoy such things. Why can’t the authorities execute people humanely and in private by giving them hemlock to drink, as they did with Socrates?’ Then, averting my eyes from the disagreeable spectacle, I resume our fascinating discussion about the True, the Good and the Beautiful.

Another Week Ends: Lenten Anthropology Meets Carl Rogers, New <i>Community</i>, Charlie Kaufman, Oscars Morality, Auden (Again), and Katims on Crying

Another Week Ends: Lenten Anthropology Meets Carl Rogers, New Community, Charlie Kaufman, Oscars Morality, Auden (Again), and Katims on Crying

1) A particularly Lenten roundup this week, starting with this very beautiful, concise reflection from Will Willimon over at OnFaith, called “Good News! You’re a Sinner and Lent Is Here,” which deals primarily with the deep relief that comes in knowing yourself as a sinner. (Reminds us a little of someone we get to meet […]

Another Week Ends: Secret Auden, Eagleton Deicide, Remembering Wes, Method Acting, True Detective, and Russian Tourist Tips

Another Week Ends: Secret Auden, Eagleton Deicide, Remembering Wes, Method Acting, True Detective, and Russian Tourist Tips

1. Holy smokes! Have you read Edward Mendelson’s “The Secret Auden” in the NY Review of Books?! If not, run don’t walk. It’s a jaw-dropping, incredibly inspiring catalog of the clandestine episodes of grace initiated by our all-time favorite Wystan–about as honest a Matthew 6:5 vibe as I’ve come across in ages. Lest these remarkable […]

What Can Woody Allen Trapped Inside John Calvin Teach Us About Anxiety?

What Can Woody Allen Trapped Inside John Calvin Teach Us About Anxiety?

“To some people, I may seem calm. But if you could peer beneath the surface, you would see that I’m like a duck—paddling, paddling, paddling…” – Scott Stossel You don’t have to have a therapist on speed dial to relate. You don’t need a prescription to Xanax or Ativan, or a shelf full of ‘dealing […]

W.H. Auden Riffs on the Lord's Prayer in "For the Time Being"

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread, The Lord's Prayer; Gieb Uns Heute Unser Taglich Brot, Das Vaterunser, 1921 (handcoloured woodcut)From the “Chorale” section, which is part of “The Summons”:

Our Father, whose creative Will
Asked Being for us all,

Confirm it that Thy Primal Love
May weave in us the freedom of
The actually deficient on
The justly actual.

Though written by Thy children with
A smudged and crooked line,
The Word is ever legible,
Thy Meaning unequivocal,
And for Thy Goodness even sin
Is valid as a sign.

Inflict Thy promises with each
Occasion of distress,
That from our incoherence we
May learn to put our trust in Thee,
And brutal fact persuade us to
Adventure, Art, and Peace.

Looking Inward, <i>East of Eden</i>: The Old Story of Unspectacular Evil

Looking Inward, East of Eden: The Old Story of Unspectacular Evil

Yet another profound look into a chronicled book-for-the-ages from Lynn MacDougall. This is part one of a new series: “A child may ask, ‘What is the world’s story about?’  And a grown man or woman may wonder, ‘What way will the world go?  How does it end and, while we’re at it, what’s the story […]

W.H. Auden on Humor and Caricature

W.H. Auden on Humor and Caricature

A couple more memorable observations from The Dyer’s Hand: A sense of humor develops in a society to the degree that its members are simultaneously conscious of being each a unique person and of being all in common subjection to unalterable laws. We enjoy caricatures of our friends because we do not want to think […]

Bliss Is Not For Sale: Catastrophic Conversion and the Roots of Protestantism

Bliss Is Not For Sale: Catastrophic Conversion and the Roots of Protestantism

This one comes to us from W.H. Auden, who included it as the entry on Puritanism in “A Certain World: a commonplace book,” his collection of alphabetized wisdom. As beautiful a distillation of the Protestant ‘break-through’ as it may be, the words are actually not Wystan’s. It’s an excerpt from The Oxford History of English […]

Another Week Ends: Jewish Anxiety, Christian Juvenilia, Male Demise, Cheap Law, Underachievement and Imperfection, Bearded Brooklyn, <i>Ram</i> and Beach Boys

Another Week Ends: Jewish Anxiety, Christian Juvenilia, Male Demise, Cheap Law, Underachievement and Imperfection, Bearded Brooklyn, Ram and Beach Boys

1. “Do The Jews Own Anxiety?” asked Daniel Smith in The NY Times last week, and his answer may surprise you. A member of the tribe himself, Smith traces the public (gentile) perception of Jewish neurosis, as well as how its poster-boys (Woody Allen, Philip Roth’s Alexander Portnoy, etc) have almost gleefully perpetuated the stereotype, […]

Another Week Ends: Gamer Grace, Baby Data, Moonrise Kingdom, Amygdalas, LEGO (and Kinkade) Infernos, Munch's Scream, more Marilynne, and Parks and Rec

Another Week Ends: Gamer Grace, Baby Data, Moonrise Kingdom, Amygdalas, LEGO (and Kinkade) Infernos, Munch's Scream, more Marilynne, and Parks and Rec

1. Yes Please: A truly wonderful article from our friends at Kill Screen looking at video games through the lens of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the Geek.” Richard Clark explores the crucial difference between playing for points and playing for fun, the imperative to win vs. the freedom to lose. The grounding concept is that […]

Auden on Heroes, (Christian) Art and Wishing the Iconoclasts Had Won

Auden on Heroes, (Christian) Art and Wishing the Iconoclasts Had Won

A trio of gems from W.H. Auden’s essay on “Christianity and Art”, which can be found in the collection The Dyer’s Hand: To a Christian, the godlike man is not the hero who does extraordinary deeds, but the holy man, the saint, who does good deeds. But the gospel defines a good deed as one […]

W. H. Auden on Disintoxicating Poetry, New York Penthouses and the Endpoint of Addiction

W. H. Auden on Disintoxicating Poetry, New York Penthouses and the Endpoint of Addiction

Another batch of deep wisdom from poet Wystan, this time from his essay “Writing” which can be found in The Dyer’s Hand and Other Essays. Poetry is not magic. In so far as poetry, or any other of the arts, can be said to have an ulterior purpose, it is, by telling the truth, to […]